Pune, April 17:
Having lost the last of their individual encounters, both Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will seek their path to recovery when they lock horns against each other in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash here on Saturday.
A win for either side will do them a world of good, especially if the Kings XI can pull this off as they have just won one of their three matches, losing to Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils.
In a repeat of last year’s final when KKR had the last laugh, the runners-up will want to turn the tables this time around with their big hitting batsmen. Australian Glen Maxwell and South Africa’s David Miller, the big-hitting duo of Punjab, will be raring to go, after missing out in the previous matches.
Skipper George Bailey, who blasted his way to an unbeaten 61 helping his side notch their only win against Mumbai Indians, will also look to anchor the innings and take it till the end.
Thus, with some quality willowers in the Kings XI side, one expects a formidable total on the board if they bat first.
However, KKR relishe the opportunity of chasing down huge totals. They did so against Mumbai Indians in the lung opener with ease as they went past a formidable total of 168.
But a storm hit them in the form of West Indies opener Chris Gayle in the second game. KKR lost the encounter by three wickets as Royal Challengers Bangalore chased down 177.
The toss will be a vital factor and it will be interesting to see if KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir decides to field first in away from home conditions.
The defending champions will have to get their combination absolutely right if they want to topple their opponents. Missing Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan because of national commitments would not do them much good either.
It remains to be seen if KKR field their “mystery” spinner K.C. Cariappa again. He was quite expensive in his last outing.
The onus of scoring the runs will again be on Gambhir, who has been battling fever and a stomach bug for some days, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey.
They would entrust their bowling responsibilities to their West Indies spin spearhead Sunil Narine and leading pace Morne Morkel, whose fielding and catching has left a lot to be desired.
However, the skipper looked confident of doing well in the encounter.
“Last year we had stopped them thrice, cannot see why we cannot beat them again,” Gambhir said on Thursday before leaving for Pune.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper), Piyush Chawla, Yusuf Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav Veer, Pratap Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Sumit Narwal, Sheldon Jackson, Aditya Garhwal, KC Cariappa, Vaibhav Rawal, Manish Pandey.A Shakib Al Hasan, Morne Morkel, Pat Cummins, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andre Russell, Brad Hogg, Azhar Mahmood, Johan Botha.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (captain), Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Mitchell Johnson, Axar Patel, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Karanveer Singh, Manan Vohra, Thisara Perera, Parvinder Awana, Rishi Dhawan, Beuran Hendricks, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Shivam Sharma, Nikhil Naik, Yogesh Golwalkar. (IANS)